Long Beach Teacher honored as champion for family literacy

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family literacy awardLong Beach educator Rosa Hernandez was named as a runner up for the national 2010 Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year award at the National Conference on Family Literacy in April. Hernandez, who is an early childhood educator, has been working at the Long Beach Family Literacy Program for 14 years.

“Research and results at family literacy centers throughout the country demonstrate that working with multiple generations is the best way to lift up the entire family,” said Sharon Darling, president & founder of NCFL. “It increases their stability and financial well-being, and it opens the door of infinite possibility to them. Rosa’s dedication is having an immediate and long-term impact not only on those families she touches but on the entire community.”

As part of the award given by Toyota and the National Center for Family Literacy, she received a scholarship to the NCFL conference and a $500 grant for her program. The honors go to educators who demonstrate extraordinary efforts to improve the literacy skills of children and their parents.

“I was very honored and surprised,” Hernandez said of the runner-up notification.  “What I do every day comes from the bottom of my heart.”  Hernandez reached finalist status in 2008 and went on to reach runner-up status this year out of a pool of five top educators in the nation.

Hernandez has worked for 14 years teaching children and their parents literacy and life skills.  In Long Beach Family Literacy, parents join their preschool children in class for two days each week, learning how to support their learning.  The parents also take other computer literacy, parenting and English-as-a second language classes at the same time on the Long Beach School for Adults campus where their children attend.

Helping Hernandez to win the national honor was a glowing, co-authored testimonial from parents.  Parents raved about the education their children received in Hernandez’s class.

“Mrs. Hernandez and Mrs. Bridgette Spikes, her instructional aide, are definitely excellent teachers,” the parents wrote.  “Our children are at an advanced level in knowledge according to their age.  They have won our deepest appreciation and admiration.”

Over the past three years, more than 20 of the family members that Hernandez has worked with have gone on to secure employment, receive promotions, and/or enroll in and successfully complete college classes.

The family literacy program is housed at the Long Beach School for Adults, 3701 E. Willow Street. Begun in 1992, Long Beach Family Literacy is funded by the State of California Even Start Office and First 5 Los Angeles.  The effort is a collaboration between the Long Beach Unified School District and the City of Long Beach’s Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network.

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